Red Bull’s Perez reigns in Monaco rain

Sergio Perez won a rain-delayed, crash-halted and ultimately nail-biting Monaco Grand Prix for Red Bull on Sunday to make his dream come true as another evaporated for Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

The Mexican's team mate Max Verstappen finished third to stretch his Formula One championship lead over Leclerc, who was fourth, to nine points after seven of 22 races.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz was second, for the second year in succession.

Leclerc had started on pole position but Ferrari were outsmarted on strategy and he was leapfrogged by the Red Bull drivers in the pitstops.

The win was the third of Perez's career and second for Red Bull, and it ended with a thrilling chase on a treacherous street circuit where the difference between success and failure is measured in millimetres. The top four at the chequered flag were separated by a mere 2.9 seconds.

The showcase race, whose future is being increasingly questioned as Formula One expands to new venues in the Americas and Middle East, was twice red-flagged and shortened from 77 scheduled laps to 64 after running out of time.

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Perez was only the third driver to win a race this season, with Verstappen winning four of the previous six and Leclerc the other two. Verstappen, who had been chasing a fourth win in a row, now has 125 points to Leclerc's 116 with Perez on 110.

The race started after more than an hour's delay, with the safety car guiding the field around for formation laps on the wet asphalt before peeling off into the pits as Leclerc led the rolling start.

The Monegasque stayed ahead until lap 18, when he pitted to change from wet tyres to intermediates and found himself behind Perez, who had come in a lap earlier and made the 'undercut' work, and Sainz.

An angry Leclerc dropped to fourth after Ferrari called him in again for slicks and then told him, too late, to stay out after Sainz also pitted and went directly from wets to the dry tyres.

The safety car was again deployed on lap 27 after Mick Schumacher crashed his Haas heavily at the exit to the swimming pool complex, the car spinning into the barriers and splitting in two.

"I'm okay," gasped the 23-year-old German, whose Ferrari great father Michael was a five-times winner in Monaco, over the car radio. (Reuters)

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